War Games

Semi-random thoughts on Konami’s decision not to publish “Six Days in Fallujah”

- This writer can’t think of any other time when an entertainment company has pulled a controversial release before the public has had a chance to make an independent judgment.

For example, Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ” was accused of being an anti-Semitic film well before the movie was released. But the movie was released, and people ( a lot of people) had a chance to buy a ticket and make up their own minds about Gibson’s portrayal of the Gospels.

Sun photographer Gabriel Acosta mentioned “Collateral Damage,” the Arnold Schwarzenegger movie that had its release delayed after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

That out of the way, there’s a probably a good chance that some game publisher with a stomach for the controversy will pick up “Six Days in Fallujah.” Instead of being just another video game, the title is now a news item. Gamers will want to play a game that now has the appeal of being forbidden and entertainment reporters in need of a story will have an excuse to write an article about “Six Days in Fallujah” and what the game means in the context of American society and the history of warfare.

If Konami’s announcement wasn’t a publicity stunt, it might as well have been.

- It’s understandable that families of those slain in combat do not want to see video games made about actual conflicts, and video games still have a long way to go before that changes. Today’s games are much more complicated than “Galaga,” but it’s doubtful that many people who do not play games have any idea that titles like “Fallout 3″ or “Bioshock” force players to make tactical decisions that also have moral consequences within the game’s storyline.

Maybe “Six Days in Fallujah” will prove to use technology to convey a “war is hell” message, or give Marines a chance to tell their combat stories from Iraq. Military histories and war movies already do this, but people watching “Saving Private Ryan” don’t push a button on their remote control to fire Tom Hanks’ submachine gun. People who didn’t grow up playing video games are still likely to view “Six Days in Fallujah” and other video games as war porn, not as a narrative idiom.

- War-themed video games have often mirrored contemporary conflicts, and “Six Days in Fallujah” is not the first time an Iraq War scenario has been rendered in polygons. The Kuma’War series includes several scenarios derived from the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. The series debuted in February 2004 with a simulation of the mission that led to the deaths of Saddam Hussein’s sons.

Another example of a game that reflects the post 9/11 world is Command & Conquer Generals, a 2003 strategy game that let gamers play as or against three factions: the United States, China and the al Qaeda-like Global Liberation Army, which employed suicide tactics and poison weapons.

Cold War-era game designers sought to reflect geopolitics well before game technology allowed realistic graphics. Who hasn’t played “Missile Command?”

When Mr. T isn’t a soldier for hire or playing WoW, he’s fighting…Nazis with Will Wright?!

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Developer Zootfly had stirred up plenty of attention last year when a number of teaser trailers like this one made the rounds in showing off a prototype for a Ghostbusters game that they had hoped to make. That is, until they were unable to secure the license, a license that Sony would later award to Sierra Entertainment and Terminal Reality. Ironically, the excitement created by Zootfly’s trailers had helped Terminal Reality sell the idea to Sony.

And now Zootfly have come up with an idea that could be just as cool, if not ripped from some alternate dimension forgotten by the Twilight Zone.

Brace yourselves for this one, A-Team fans…Mr. T goes to war against the Nazis!
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Guns, a sword, and Eliza Dushku.

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I was digging through my vacation-packed e-mail and found the announcement from Bethesda Softworks about their plans to publish the action game WET for the Xbox 360 and PS3. The game is being developed by Artificial Mind and Movement (A2M).

The game’s heroine is Rubi Malone, a super-assassin who rocks twin pistols and a samurai sword — kind of a cross between The Bride from Kill Bill and Inspector Tequila from Stranglehold.That’s kind of the impression I’m getting from the game in general, judging from the trailers and shots full of bullet-time and blood. The skeptical part of me wants to just pull out Stranglehold and call it a day, but we’ll see.

The Malone character’s voice is handled by Eliza Dushku, the star of “Dollhouse” on Sci-Fi. The game is slated for a fall release. Oh, and please be mindful of the trailer – you’ve got tons of blood and a 12-letter word at the end. Consider yourself warned.

Konami Nixes Publishing Six Days in Fallujah

The controversy following Atomic Games’ FPS based off of the Second Battle of Fallujah in Iraq has made Konami think twice about publishing the game under its label according to Japanese newspaper, Asahi, MCV reports. Development on the game hasn’t officially ended, however, and Atomic Games has yet to issue their own response to the news as well as answer questions regarding the future of the title.

On a more personal note, was it too soon or is this another case of where games have run into the transparent wall separating them from the respectability that film and books enjoy?
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Hands-on with “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves”

After much speculation and conversation, today is the day that I can confirm that “Uncharted 2: Among Thieves” will have multiplayer. I can also confirm that the multiplayer is a heck of a lot of fun.

I was among the first people outside developer Naughty Dog to get to play the sequel to the 2007 PlayStation 3 exclusive “Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune,” and the new game builds on the success of the original. Naughty Dog unveiled “Uncharted 2″ at a press event in Hollywood last week, and I’ve been itching to talk about it ever since.
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Get your a** to Mars

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Volition has released a demo for their mega-demolition FPS, Red Faction: Guerilla, for the console crowd and being the curious sort, I downloaded the Xbox 360 version which proceeded to blow my expectations out of orbit with a mass driver. PC players have, so far, been left out of the goodness even though the game is coming out for that platform, too.

But the promises? They’re true. They really are. The whole destructibility thing is absolutely, without question, awesomely fun.
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GeoCities is Closing

Yahoo has recently updated their Geocities page with the following statement:

After careful consideration, we have decided to close GeoCities later this year. We’ll share more details this summer. For now, please sign in or visit the help center for more information.

As the web grew by leaps and bounds during the nineties, GeoCities stood out as one of the many promising icons of the dot-com bubble that made checkbooks salivate at the thought of where it could take their dividends on Wall Street. This was before the ‘net became a new paradise for porn and the term “net neutrality” inspired cable ISPs to advertise against the perceived evil that it might bring.

Yahoo eventually bought into the dream at a cool $3.6 billion and promptly began annoying its own users by implementing forced ads. And if you think MySpace pioneered obnoxious applets driving someone’s idea of music into your speakers and then blinding your eyes with gangsta wallpaper, then you haven’t seen what GeoCities had allowed into the wild during those early years.

To be fair, not all of it was bad and, most importantly, it was free and open to anyone that wanted to stake out their own piece of digital real estate. But I couldn’t help but dread whenever a link would take me there and wonder if that Quake II map was worth going the extra distance.

Unfortunately, with the explosion of popular social sites available to ‘net savvy tourists today, GeoCities’ limited appeal has apparently dwindled to the point where even Yahoo has decided to finally pull the plug, closing another chapter from the early days of the web.